Council Reviews City Social Services Contracts

The city has contracts with four social service agencies, and as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 operating budget discussions, representatives of those agencies met with the City Council on Tuesday night.

Chelsea has contracts with North Suffolk Mental Health; Roca, Inc.; La Colaborativa; and CAPIC for various social and mental health services.

The contracts discussed on Tuesday night only concerned money that comes straight out of the city’s operating budget, according to City Manager Thomas Ambrosino.

“Some of the agencies have other funding that can funnel through the city,” said Ambrosino. “For example, ROCA has a contract with the state for Safe and Secure Youth that funnels through the city budget, but we do not pay for it.”

The $152,000 contract with North Suffolk Mental Health funds the salary and support for two navigators, who work primarily with the city’s homeless population to place them in detox or mental health facilities.

Jason Owens, the navigator supervisor, said that he and the other navigator head out every day to many of the spots where there are issues, including under the bridges, the city parks, and potential homeless encampments.

“Once we engage people, we do a lot of work with the courts and the police department and other public service entities in the city,” he said. “For the most part, we get a lot of denial of services.”

But Owens said the navigators continue to work with the individuals until they are ready for services and they can find them a place in a detox or mental health facility. He said they try to walk them through the entire process and work with other social services agencies in the city to make sure the individuals get the best care and support.

In Fiscal Year 2022, Owens said the navigator program enrolled 82 new clients, served 346 individuals overall, and placed 87 individuals in detox units.

ROCA has a $150,000 transitional employment contract with the city where at-risk youth provide services alongside the department of public services.

One supervisor and five crew members work four days per week, 6.5 hours per day, according to Joe Furnari, ROCA’s Chelsea site director. Furnari said the crews go out on a daily basis, and even operated during the pandemic, assisting with preparing food boxes for residents. He said the program is as much an educational and training program as it is a jobs program.

Chelsea has two contracts with Community Action Programs Inter-City (CAPIC). One is for $135,000 for emergency housing and general case support, and the second is for $90,000 for case management for substance use disorder.

“The aim of the program is to connect individuals to services,” said Gladys Agneta, the director of the substance use disorder program at CAPIC. “We provide wraparound services, which is once they come from detox and clinical stabilization programs, we wrap around them with sober living, we provide transportation. We also put them on a stipend program to help them get back on their feet; we give them clothing and toiletries and then we try to case manage them.”

The city’s $190,000 contract with La Colaborativa helps support its Summer Jobs Youth Program, which also provides year-round jobs for young people.

“We are hoping to hire up to 25 young people year round and two supervisors,” said La Colaborativa Executive Director Gladys Vega.

Vega said about 16 percent of the $190,000 from the city contract goes toward supervisors and administrative costs, while the remainder covers the jobs for the young people.

Overall, the Summer Youth Program employs about 230 young people, with 102 of those being year round, and the remainder taking part in a six-week summer jobs program. The majority of the young people work 10-15 hours a week.

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